Extra pounds cause the liver to age faster, potentially explaining why obesity is linked to diseases like liver cancer and insulin resistance, new research suggests.
Researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles used a tool called an “aging clock,” which they developed last year. The tool monitors the DNA methylation process–or the passing of certain chemicals from one group to another–of human organs, tissues and cells; in doing so, it can determine the biological age of the material which it is assessing.
In the study, the researchers collected nearly 1,200 human tissue samples, including 140 liver samples. They also calculated the weight, height and body mass index (BMI) of the subjects from whom the samples were taken.
The researchers found that the individuals with higher BMIs showed more biological aging of their livers, when compared to individuals of the same height but with lower BMIs. Specifically, every 10 BMI units was linked to a 3.3 times higher biological age of the liver.